Ledaig (pronounced le-chayg) is produced by Tobermory distillery, which is located in the town of the same name, on the Isle of Mull, the northern neighbour of Islay and Jura. The distillery is one of the oldest in Scotland, dating back to 1798, and is the only commercial distillery on Mull.
Tobermory (then known as Ledaig distillery) was one of the victims of the great depression (and prohibition in the US), closing down in 1930, before being revived in 1971. Like many distilleries, it suffered again in the 1980's, to the point where it's warehouse was converted into apartments! But it kept the distillery doors open, until it was snapped up by Burn Stewart Distiller's, in 1993. Who also own Bunnahabhain and Deanston, and are behind the Black Bottle blended whisky.
Apparently, since the warehouse is no longer part of the distillery, Tobermory's whisky is matured at sister distillery Deanston, on the Scottish mainland. But on the positive side, they floor malt and mill their barley on-site, and since 2010, they have not chill filtered or added any colouring to any of their whiskies before bottling, and all are bottled at 46% and above.
Ledaig is the peated version of Tobermory. Or 'wonderfully peated', to quote the label. It isn't quite heavily peated by Islay standards, I would put it somewhere around Ardmore Traditional, or perhaps Caol Ila Moch. So there's still a decent level of peat influence here. The standard 10-year old Ledaig is matured in ex-bourbon casks, and bottled at 46.3%, non-chill filtered and natural colour. There's also an 18-year old (want!) and a whopping 42-year old bottling (call your bank manager!), both of which are finished in sherry casks, and are bottled at around the same strength. The 42 seems to be insanely expensive though, at around $9000 AUD!!! I might have to pass on that one.
Ledaig 10yo, 46.3%, Tobermory distillery. Isle of Mull, Scotland.
'Wonderfully peated', matured in ex-bourbon casks. Non-chill filtered, natural colour.
Nose: Very coastal - salty air, wet sand, brine, dried kelp. Smoked fish, medicinal peat and some iodine. Buttery salted caramel, sweet vanilla. Slightly reminiscent of Laphroaig 10, minus most of the smoke.
Texture: Medium, but very nice. No heat at all.
Taste: Herbal and salty peat. A little dry, acrid smoke. Chilli pepper and brine, drying driftwood, smoked white fish. Mild wood spice, and sweet vanilla.
Finish: Medium-long, but becoming soft. Herbal and saline. Toasted wood, salted butter. Dry smoke and roasted nuts.
Score: 4 out of 5.
Notes: An engaging and intriguing malt, which is also quite complex. If it had been more expensive, it would've scored slightly lower. But it isn't, so it didn't. Perhaps a little more smoke, and a stronger/heavier finish would be nice, but no matter. It's priced around the same as Ardbeg 10, and they're very similar on paper: natural colour, non-chill filtered, 46%, 10 years old, and nicely peated. The Ardbeg still wins for me, but not by as big a margin as I may have expected! Which speaks volumes for the Ledaig, I think. So, if you're looking for a good value and good quality peat fix, that is also something a little different, look to Ledaig 10yo.
Tobermory has just re-released a second batch of the 18yo Ledaig, which is Oloroso sherry finished. I'm adding that one to my wish-list! It's quite expensive unfortunately, at around $210 AUD, particularly for the relatively low strength at that price point (46%). But I suspect it's still going to be a winner.